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British Industrial History

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Shoreham Aerodrome

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1910 Harold H. Piffard, an amateur aviator, arrived from London with the remains of his experimental flying machine. He liked the ‘capital ground’ and strong hangar at the site adjoining New Salts Farm, Shoreham.

Negotiations had begun the previous year between George Wingfield’s Aviators Finance Company and the Mayors of Brighton, Hove and Worthing to put Shoreham on the map as a centre of early aviation and it was George Wingfield, a solicitor and businessman, who provided the link between the amateur efforts of Piffard and the more serious intentions of the local mayors.

1911 O. C. Morison was the first aviator to fly into Shoreham on March 7th in his Bleriot, all the way from Brighton.

1911 The first Brooklands to Shoreham air race also took place on May 6th, and was won by Gustav Hamel in another Bleriot.

By June of 1911, ten wooden hangars and a grandstand for spectators had been built, together with rail access, known as ‘Bungalow Town Halt’ and on 20th June the Brighton (Shoreham) Aerodrome was officially opened.

On July 4th 1911, Horatio Barber made the earliest recorded cargo flight when he took a box of Osram light bulbs to Hove.

1937. Cedric Lee and Tilghman Richards Monoplane.

1912 A. V. Roe, Claude Graham-White, Gordon England, Horatio Barber, Graham Gilmour, John Alcock, Gustav Hamel and Mr O C Morison all flew to Shoreham. Also arriving at Shoreham were some aviation experimenters, including G. M. Dyott with his red monoplane, A. V. Roe, Tsoe K. Wong, one of the earliest Chinese aviators, and Cedric Lee and Tilghman Richards with their “flying doughnut”.

1913 Cecil Lawrence Pashley and his brother Eric Clowes Pashley (who was later killed in the 1914-1918 war) moved from Brooklands to Shoreham to start the Shoreham Flying School, Shoreham. Sadly, this was the year that saw Shoreham’s first flying fatality when, on June 29th, Richard Norton Wight stalled his Avro 500 and crashed into New Salts Farm garden.

WWI In August 1914, a Marine Major Gerrard requisitioned the aerodrome and all its assets. Because of this, George Wingfield began a costly action against the government, which didn’t end until 1916 when he received £25,000 in compensation from them.

The Pashley brothers continued with their flying school until December of 1914 and then stored their machines in one of the hangars when they left; Cecil to the Northern Lakes and Eric to Vickers before joining 24 squadron in France. Cecil later moved to Hendon where he trained many for the Royal Flying Corps.

The airfield was used during the 1914-18 war as a RFC training base with No. 3 Training Squadron using Farmans, FE2s and later, Avro 504s.

1921 The field reverted back to grazing land for cattle.

1926/7 Fred and George Herbert Miles, brothers from Portslade, joined forces with Cecil Pashley (who had returned from instructing at Hendon) to form the Gnat Aero Co, which operated from south of the present railway line.

Pashley taught Fred and George to fly and they then used their Avro 504s not just for their own enjoyment but also for tuition. By 1926 they had expanded to the north and west of New Salts Farm Road and become Southern Aircraft Ltd and the Southern Aero Club.

Also in this year, Sir Alan Cobham came to Shoreham and, with Sir Sefton Brancker, worked very hard to revive local municipal interest in Shoreham as an airport.

1928 The Mayor of Worthing had approached Mr Miles senior, the brothers’ father and source of much of their financing, to discuss acquiring the land for a municipal airport.

1929 By this time, the Miles brothers had started to produce their own aircraft designs and, on July 10th 1929, the Southern Martlet took off from Shoreham. In October of this year, Hendy Aircraft produced and flew the Hendy Hobo.

1930 Alan Cobham was engaged by the local authorities to survey possible airfield sites; he chose the original field that had been used until 1921. A sum of £31,000 was allocated for the construction of a terminal building and hangars.

1932 the Portsmouth, Southsea and Isle of Wight Aviation Company started their first scheduled services with four flights a day.

1935 The new airport was ready for use by September, less than a year after the start of building. The Southern Aero Club was taken over by Brooklands Aviation and was renamed the South Coast Flying Club, retaining Cecil Pashley as Chief Flying Instructor.

WWII Traffic from Croydon was re-routed to Shoreham. During 1940 Shoreham was requisitioned by the RAF and used for anti-invasion patrols by 225 Squadron’s Lysanders; throughout the Battle of Britain Shoreham was used as an emergency landing ground. In 1941 the airfield was extended.

1950s Became well-known again as an air racing and air display venue and also because the Miles brothers had leased the airfield for work on aviation contracts.

1953 first flight of the Miles Sparrowjet, the first British light aircraft to use jet power, at Shoreham on 14th December.

Chelsea College of Aero Engineering set up premises there (now known as Northbrook College).

East Anglian Flying Services employed a De Havilland Rapide to fly services to the Channel Islands

Meridian Air Maps (another company with Miles involvement) used an Aerovan, Austers and Consul for its work here.

1957 The Miles Student/Centurion flew from Shoreham on May 15th. The re-formed South Coast Flying Club was transformed into the Southern Aero Club with Cecil Pashley still involved.


See Also

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Sources of Information

  • [1] Shoreham Airport web site